By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – School board officials saw the potential of having a creative edge in a digital world from an unlikely presenter.
© Adam Brazeau
'Moist’ frontman gets gig as 'creativity expert' in Cornwall event: Montreal singer/songwriter David Usher gave a presentation and performed for hundreds of educators at the Upper Canada District School Board: 2013 Small School Summit.
Montreal singer/songwriter David Usher, frontman of Canadian band ‘Moist’ and a solo artist, was a keynote speaker at the 2013 Small School Summit.
During an exclusive interview with Seaway News, Usher, speaking to hundreds of educators as a creativity expert, discussed the online shift happening in education that completely revolutionized the music industry.
“The world’s changing so rapidly and many people are being cut out by the new way the world works. I’m really lucky that, because music changed so quickly, it sort of brought me into those changes very fast,” he said.
The annual Upper Canada District School Board event is focused on ushering in a new era of education. The two-day conference was hosted at Cornwall’s Nav Centre on Oct. 24 and 25. Educators took part in numerous seminars on innovative instructional techniques. Incorporating personal devices to assist student learning, using animation to engage students and student wellness through Cross Fit were a few of the topics.
“Students and education as a whole, we live in a different world. Internet has really changed the way education works,” said Usher. “When you don’t have the internet, access to ideas immediately, you have to learn things in a different way. Memorization becomes much more important in an old world”
He has helped to create real-time social media aggregation software used by NHL teams like the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. The four-time Juno winner is the founder of Cloudid Creativity Labs, an idea-incubator that unites designers, programmers and artists on various projects.
“In a new world, the ability to synthesize ideas becomes much more important, and these days in most industries, everyone is looking for someone who can think and can innovate,” said Usher. “Creativity has become the new buzzword, mostly because industries need to find a new competitive advantage and that comes from creativity. We’ve lost the ability to compete on price, so we have to compete on other things.”
Usher, 47, has his kids enrolled in a progressive alternative school. He boasted their curriculum style, which encourages kids from the age of five to do project-based schoolwork.
“If you look at kids in kindergarten you look at imagination gone crazy, but the school system has a way of putting us in lines, and in many ways we learn a ton of things, but we’re also taught very specific things and to work in very specific ways. I think that it’s very important to relook at the way we’re doing those things,” he said.
Enter Chris Boston, principal of Gananoque Intermediate Secondary School, one of three event co-chairs. The theme this year is ‘Innovate Now.’
“It’s a group of high level performers who are interested in sharing ideas and collaborating on a new experience in our classrooms to meet the needs of the 21st Century,” said Boston.
Three keynote speakers shared professions that brought the immediacy of the online world with them. Asides from Usher, Diane Buckner from the Dragon’s Den and social media guru Amber MacArthur were giving presentations.
“We’re bringing together educators from across our board, along with a special contingent from Alberta, to talk about ideas around innovation and really setting forth the impetus of why we need to innovate now,” said Boston.
Moist back on stage
Usher also commented on the status of Moist. After a long hiatus, the popular ‘90s band has six Canadian tour dates scheduled from Nov. 28 to Dec. 19.
“We’re just in rehearsals right now,” he said. “We think we’re going to do a new album, but we’re not sure. We’re just getting back together and anytime you bring people back after 13 years there’s a bit of an adjustment period.”
The Canadian music fixture gave alternative rockers Billy Talent praise for being a band that has kept Canucks rockin' over the last decade.
Usher has put out solo albums consecutively throughout the 2000s. His latest album ‘Songs From The Last Day On Earth’ was released in Oct., 2012.